Solar-powered learning

Published 12:18 pm Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Through telescopes scattered across the grass and special glasses distributed to students, staff and members of the community, a large crowd gathered on Longwood University’s Wheeler Mall to take a look at the partial solar eclipse Monday afternoon.

“We had a lot of people coming out,” said Longwood student Casey Savage, who helped assist during the event. “I have definitely perfected taking pictures through the telescope. A lot of people think it looks fake,” she said of the view of the sun through the telescope, “and it’s very interesting because they like seeing the sun spots and the flares and whatnot when the clouds go over it.”

Jillian Dudley, a junior at Longwood, said her professor canceled the first day of class so students could witness the eclipse.

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“I just thought it was really cool because I took astronomy my senior year of high school, and I’m now a junior (in college),” Dudley said. “I remember him (my former teacher saying) about how it lines up for like a perfect minute or two minutes to see the ring, even though I don’t think in Virginia we got to see the ring. Still seeing the crescent was pretty cool.”

“The last time this phenomenon occurred was in 1979 and prior to that in 1918,” Longwood officials said in a press release regarding the event. “Luckily, it will happen again in a mere seven years on April 8, 2024.”

The release cited at Longwood, the Department of Chemistry and Physics hosted the eclipse event for students, faculty, staff and members of the community.

Longwood science faculty members and students handed out free solar viewing glasses, courtesy of the Cook-Cole College of Arts and Sciences, and had three telescopes fitted with solar filters for closer viewing.

Jared Tackett, of Longwood’s campus planning and construction office, created a box for the event that acted as a pinhole box.

“(It’s) basically just an old banker’s box, really, and we put some white paper on the inside (and) aluminum foil on the outside,” Tackett said. “We have a hole cutout from inside the box so there’s a pinhole that allows a little bit of light in and you kind of see the crescent there.”

Tackett said he thought it was great having people gathered and that everyone was enjoying “just being outside and just taking it in. …”

Longwood student Alyssa Stamey said she thought it was cool that Longwood got “all the students together and provided the glasses so students could see (the eclipse).”

See more photos here.